Mooseinmyhouse.com » Posts in 'audio clips' category

Drummer Harold Jones on swinging Basie, Bennett, and life

Legendary drummer Harold Jones talks with me about growing up in Chicago with legends Herbie Hancock and Frank Strozier, and touring with Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington, and countless others that would make your jaw drop. He reflects on the great clubs of the 1950s and 60s and the fertile ground they offered young musicians seeking to grow and learn. And he waxes philosophical about playing with dynamics and understanding what the music calls for. A great chat with a great musician. We spoke on September 11, 2012 in Austin, Texas when Harold was in town for an Austin City Limits recording with Tony Bennett, who he has toured with for many years.

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Talk about chicken

Chicken has been the subject of songs and humor since, at least, the advent of the blues. It’s even a funny word to say, especially when you go with a lazy, suthun pronunciation with more of a “g” sound in the middle — “chiggen!” Great New York sax player, Bob Berg, used to do a tune he called “Live at the Chicken Shack.” It was a totally groovin’ shuffle. Any song about chicken has to be a shuffle.

One of my favorite moments in chicken humor is the dinner scene in Blake Edward’s 1968 film, The Party. Peter Sellers is sitting low at the long, crowded table because they were out of chairs. As he struggles to cut into his Cornish game hen, his chin just above the table and elbows high in the air, the roasted bird slips off his plate, takes flight, and lands with a perfect perch just inside the tiara of the beehive-haired woman sitting across from him.  She has no idea it is there, goes on with dinner conversation, and Sellers gazes on in horror. The first time I say that movie, and that scene, I laughed so hard you’d have thought I was choking on a chicken bone. It was the movie that ran after the evening news, back when that was common in the pre-cable and VCR days. My parents were asleep in the next room, and I laughed hysterically into a pillow so I wouldn’t wake them up.

During my college years I created a lot of silly phone answering machine messages with my brother, Doug, and good friend Paul McKee, a great jazz trombonist and Woody Herman alum. Seems we were preoccupied with chicken then as well, with half of our answering machine songs featuring chicken-inspired titles and lyrics. Rainbow Trout seemed to find its way in there a lot as well. I cannot explain this affliction, but here’s a sample.

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Playing bad can actually be hard

This intentional dismantling of the old jazz standard, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” was a lot of fun the handful of times we attempted it with the other-wise fusion jazz minded group headed by Austin, Texas guitarist Mitch Watkins. I found it actually took a lot of concentration to play this bad. But there’s something strangely pleasing to me about it. Maybe it’s was a natural venting of frustration from playing this song for real about 1000 times too many.

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Answering machine classics: Doug Laningham collection, Vol 2

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Answering machine classics: SafetyNet Hair Spray

During the big hair days of the 1970s, my Mom always had a hairspray can of Aquanet or Safetynet or something like that.  Don’t know if there ever was a product called SafetyNet, but it sounds right to me. Here was my idea of what a SafetyNet commercial might be like.

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Answering machine classics: The Doug Laningham Collection, Vol 1

I snuck up on Doug banging around on a Fender Rhodes in our house one day and captured a few seconds of his improvations.  That was the inspiration for this answering machine ditty. It’s still on of my favorites, and interestingly, I’ve grown to love his McCoy Tyner meets Liberache stylings. I’m thinking, maybe he DOES need to to an album.

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Answering machine classics: Talk about chicken

Talk about Chicken is more post-impressionist, antediluvian than The Laundry Burglar. A large potion of these crazy answering machine messages from the early 1980s included my roomates at the time, great jazz trombonist Paul McKee and my brother, Doug Laningham.  This one features Paul and I multitracking chickens doing atonal swing. Paul supplies the lovely mallet work, I play brushes on snare, and there are other things going on in the background that I now find hard to discern.

One of my great pals from Austin, Texas, Beverly Spicer, is a deep and expansive thinker, and happens to love this one. Go figure. We must be communicating something beyond what we realized at the time.

I know we pushed the boundaries of our callers’ patience with this one. I don’t remember anyone ever leaving a message after this, or making it to the beep.

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Answering machine classics: The Laundry Burglar

I now inaugurate a new series featuring answering messages from my college years.  When I bought my first answering machine around 1982 you would have thought I had scored a Tonight Show date. At least, that is how I treated it. In retrospect, I feel for all of the unfortunate ones who had to suffer through these 30-second comedy routines just to leave a message for me or my room mates.

I call this one, The Laundry Burglar.

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